By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — The grassroots group Stop the Pipeline, in its first public response to last week’s finding that the Constitution Pipeline could be built with acceptable environmental impacts, charged Tuesday that the project would threaten water supplies, harm hundreds of acres of forest and create new flooding risks.
Stop the Pipeline registered its disenchantment with the determination by the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, arguing the agency is bound by its own regulations to ensure new gas transmission lines “avoid forested areas and steep slopes.”
The underground pipeline, which would cost nearly $700 million to build, would send shale gas being harvested in Susquehanna County, Pa., to two existing pipelines in the Schoharie town of Wright.
While the project is backed by several business groups and both corporate executives and labor union leaders at the Amphenol plant in Sidney, it is opposed by scores of landowners who could end up facing eminent domain proceedings if they continue to resist easement agreements being promoted by the pipeline planners.
Stop the Pipeline, which had suggested co-locating the pipeline within existing transmission corridors, said that the route being eyed for the project would create a new pathway for storm runoff and lead to aquifer contamination. It also said thousands of acres of mature trees would have to be cut and some forests would end up fragmented.
The group said 36 miles of the route is covered by interior forests - or 29 percent of the entire route. The pipeline would have to cross 277 bodies of water and 555 acres of “prime” farmland, said Stop the Pipeline, which has been raising funds for anticipated legal challenges.
In a statement sent to The Daily Star, Anne Marie Garti of East Meredith, one of the organizers of Stop the Pipeline, said: “FERC can only conclude that impacts would be minor by focusing on discrete problems involved with constructing the pipeline and by failing to look at the magnitude of the destructiveness of the entire project.”
She added: “An integrated look at the facts makes clear that the impact of this proposed pipeline would be significant, and cannot be mitigated.”
Christopher Stockton, a spokesman for Constitution Pipeline, said the pipeline planners are aware that the project is opposed by some.
“We take those concerns seriously and have committed to addressing those issues the best we can,” he said. “We’ve also heard from a lot of people in the community who support the project.”
That support, he added, is coming from “individuals, chambers or local governments who recognize the permanent economic benefits of the project, in addition to creating the opportunity for possible future local natural gas service.”